Zoning Review Could Aid In Solar Array Construction | News, Sports, Jobs – Jamestown Post Journal

The Busti Town Board is working to resolve zoning issues that could aid the future construction of a solar array. Pictured are solar panels located at the Chautauqua Rest Area on Interstate 86.
P-J photo by Jay Young

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BUSTI — The town of Busti is in the process of resolving a zoning issue that could result in the future construction of a solar array.

At a Busti Town Board meeting Monday night, town attorney Joel Seachrist outlined different legal approaches which can be taken on the issue.

“The law that you adopted last year does not permit these kind of large-scale solar farms in the (commercial residential) district,” Seachrist said. “We’ve now had a company that has come forward and is proposing to put one just inside the (commercial residential district), near the main power line.”

Town law currently allows for solar array construction within areas zoned “conservation agriculture” but prohibits construction for “conservation residential” areas. Recent proposals for construction in the area of South Main Street include two contiguous property lots, one of which is zoned conservation agriculture and another that is zoned conservation residential.

In order to help the project move forward, the town board agreed to place a moratorium on solar projects while the zoning issues are sorted out. A public hearing will be held on Monday, June 22, at 7 p.m. to discuss that moratorium and strategies to deal with the zoning issue.

“This may seem like we are trying to stop the project,” Seachrist said. “We’re actually allowing you to do what you proposed, but we have to change the law to do that. We’re not stopping the project. We have to change our law in order to permit that one section.”

Solutions discussed included ammending the law to allow solar array construction within a certain distance of the main power line. Seachrist also brought up examples of how other municipalities have passed legislation to control the construction of solar farms, such as caps on acreage for such projects.

The board addressed a number of different zoning issues on Monday related to the 2013 Comprehensive Plan.

“Currently, there is a committee working on an overall updating of the zoning code with the changes that the comprehensive plan proposed,” town clerk Darlene Nygren said. “When those changes have all been addressed, reviewed by the town board and the town attorney, there will be a public hearing to approve the updated zoning code.”

In early March, the board approved a resolution for a local law that would opt Busti out of tax exemptions provided by section 487 of the real property tax law, which covers exemptions for some renewable energy projects.

In a similar situation, that decision was made not to prevent the construction of solar arrays but to ensure that the town would benefit from tax income on such projects in the future.

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Source: https://www.post-journal.com/news/local-news/2020/06/zoning-review-could-aid-in-solar-array-construction/

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